Grocery Store Owner Ordered to Pay Unemployment Benefits Over ‘Unacceptable’ Biblical Counseling

Grocery Store pdTABOR, IA — A grocery store owner in Iowa has been ordered to pay unemployment benefits to a former employee who quit her job after she was questioned about her personal lifestyle and exhorted to read the Bible.

Tyler Stille owns Tabor Market and Deli and is known for his strong Christian beliefs. He told reporters this week that he is up front with prospective employees about his faith before they are hired.

“We have a Christian fish symbol on our sign,” Stille explained. “Before we hire anybody, we tell them our faith. We play Christian music in our store all the time, and we always make sure that’s OK with them because that’s a part of our life.”

In September 2011, he hired Sherri Chafin, who is not a Christian, but said she didn’t have an issue with Stille’s Biblical beliefs—until those beliefs intersected with her personal life.

Chafin, who now works at a sexually-oriented shop, told the Des Moines Register this week that she quit her job months later after being questioned about her living arrangement and exhorted to read the Scriptures. She then filed for unemployment.

“[Stille] told me that I should read one Psalm, or one chapter, per day, something like that,” she testified at her unemployment hearing. “He asked me if I was receiving food stamps, or any welfare, or anything like that. He told me that if I was, it was unjust because I worked and I lived with my roommate—who is my boyfriend and we’re not married.”

“I was crying,” she said. “He was very intimidating.”

  • Connect with Christian News

But Stille told the court that wasn’t what happened. He said that Chafin had made an inappropriate comment to a customer, and so he asked his wife to bring him his Bible as he wanted to read Chafin a few Proverbs. Stille stated that Chafin became “belligerent” and began “crying hysterically,” so he walked out of the room when communication became useless.

“We had talked Bible-talk for quite some time [in the past] and, in fact, Sherri, in December, had given us a very beautiful religious card thanking us not only for employment and everything we had talked about and what have you,” he told the court. “So I guess I am a little dumbfounded that all of a sudden she has an issue with Christianity.”

At the end of the hearing, Administrative Judge Julie Elder sided with Chafin, stating that Stille was wrong for imposing his beliefs on Chafin and ordered him to pay unemployment.

“He effectively held her hostage in his office and lectured her regarding his religious and moral beliefs and her alleged shortcomings in his eyes,” Elder ruled, calling Stille’s actions “inappropriate, unacceptable and unprofessional.”

Stille said that the decision was troublesome and that he didn’t believe the government had the right to tell him how to run his grocery store as a Christian business owner.

“It’s just a lot of baloney and it’s more of government getting involved where it shouldn’t,” he told the Des Moines Register. “I’m just really frustrated with the whole mess.”

Become a Christian News Network Supporter...

Dear Reader, has been of benefit and a blessing to you? For many years now, the Lord has seen fit to use this small news outlet as a strong influential resource in keeping Christians informed on current events from a Biblical worldview. Despite Facebook's recent algorithm changes, which has limited our readership, and, as a result, has affected operational revenue, we continue to strive to bring you the news without compromise and to keep Christ in focus. If you have benefited from our news coverage, would you please prayerfully consider becoming a Christian News supporter by clicking here to make a one-time or monthly donation to help keep the truth widely and freely published and distributed? May Christ continue to be exalted through this work!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Mary Waterton

    All of this insanity will come to end when the US economy finally collapses. I don’t expect it to take more an a few more years.

  • ` Interesting but sad.

    Could she get unemployment pay if she was just fired for her disparaging remark?

    Could an employee at a health food store who lives on junk food put down its products or management and expect to keep her job, but get unemployment pay if he/she quit after the owner read him/her some things about healthy living and recommended she read more, in reproof of his/her junk food diet?

  • Randy

    This owner might want to get better acquainted with employment laws. He crossed a line when he went “biblical” in dealing with this employee. With few exceptions, that is a no-no under state and federal laws. He created a hostile work environment by bringing his religious beliefs into this matter. If he and his wife hadn’t read bible verses to this employee, there likely wouldn’t be an issue.

    He gets no sympathy from me.

    • Jason

      That is an unconstitutional law and thus null and void. I guess you couldn’t fire me for handing out gospel tracts and preaching at you in your grocery store? No you probably could. But that is hypocritical.

    • Jason

      Next your going to tell me I cant read Bible verses to people in my own house. That store is private property you despotic degenerate!!! If I worked in your store and you told me not to preach to people in the store you would have just as much right as in your own home! Same thing here. That is his private property.

      How about I come to your door to preach and if you say something that makes me want to leave I get to sue you? She quit. She quit because she knew he was right and he made her feel guilty. Then she decided she was going to use the law to punish him.

      May God punish both that degenerate judge and that thieving former employee if they do not repent. As it is written the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. May the Lord put the fear of Him into this corrupt judge and this former employee in such a way that they know exactly why it is happening.

      May he rebuke you for your hypocrisy!

  • Evelyn

    Apparently the judge in this case is a non Christian. If this woman made an inappropriate remark to a customer, her boss had every right to chastise her and tell her not to do that again. She could lose his business if this continued. She is a Taker – she is living with a man to whom she is not married, and she is getting the government “freebies” that the Takers get, and she saw an opportunity to Take some more, by getting unemployment. The judge played right into her hand. He should not be a judge.

  • Freedom fighter

    Sad! Where is the freedom of speech even in your own place? She had no right to demand anything from him because she knew his belief from day one. She had her FREEDOM not to work for him, but NO RIGHT to make him change his style of relating to employees. She should leave quietly on her own.
    Our government is chipping away too much of our freedom.
    Time to wake up!